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Decembre Noir – The Renaissance of Hope Award winner

Decembre Noir
The Renaissance of Hope
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 09 October 2020, 7:15 AM

DECEMBRE NOIR is a German melodic death/doom band, who formed in 2008.  “The Renaissance of Hope,” is their fourth full length album. I discovered them with their previous album 2018’s  “Autumn Kings.”  While it was a good album, “The Renaissance of Hope,” is miles above it terms of just about any category I could come up with.

Autumn Kings,” was also overly long—nothing wrong with a long doom album but only when it is needed.  I simply felt like it overstayed its welcome.  However, “TROH,” doesn’t have that problem.  Its six tracks have a total run time of forty eight minutes, which is absolutely perfect because it allows the songs to still be long (all of them are at least six minutes in length) without it being a chore to get through. Actually, this album is extremely engrossing—it has a huge sound that swallows you whole, right down to the soul.  The album’s concept centers around “hope”—and how that most honored of words doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  In the press release that came with this promo, the band specifically mentions the subject “active euthanasia” and how the hope of the person wanting to die is achieved but at the cost of the suffering of the person who fulfills the vow out of love.

This is intense subject matter, even for a genre that has made its stance on often speaking about such hard realities.  The album’s artwork reflects exactly what is in the music:  the light of hope that isn’t so bright for some, the pain of the reality of life, and the new beginnings from endings…that come back around to new endings.  These songs are anthems of hope, regret, life, death, standing tall, and falling hard.  It could be argued the production is too clean and that some times the songs sound too similar but its hard to complain when everything is just so damn well done.

DECEMBRE NOIR are a band who recognize that doom doesn’t always have to be slow and lumbering.  Certainly those are hallmarks of the genre, and “Renaissance of Hope” is indeed an album that contains them, but doom metal can also be focused on atmosphere. .  Those moods and emotions can be found just ingrained to the very fabric of these songs. This atmosphere is applied to many different tempos and riff styles, creating a landscape that hits as hard instrument wise as it does on the non physical elements of their sound.

A Swan Lake Full Of Tears,” opens the album with a thick, crushing riff and Lars’ death growls, which are some of the best in the business.  I like how the drums compliment and accent the riffs so well—Kevin definitely knows exactly what to put into these songs and clearly is setting comfortable with knowledge about music in general, not just drums. The first couple minutes of the song are pretty intense and just roll over the body, leaving a wreckage behind.  Around the two and a half mark, the song slows down a tad to let the bass do the crushing riffs next as the vocals pull the song every forward.   The guitar solo and spoken word parts that come next are classic style gothic infused doom.  The melodic passage afterwards, and the clean one that follows it, are the perfect somber injection needed to balance the song’s heavier first half.

Hope/Renaissance,” is intense from the very first second, especially the rapid drumming that dive bombs through the guitar riffs.  The intensity just keeps going, the riffs getting more and more abrasive while still retaining the thick doom sound we all love.  At the 2:00 mark the band once again does a stellar job in fading the heavier parts out and letting the more melodic tones inside,  so very smoothly without missing a beat.   From the 5:00 mark all the way to the end, the song is a musical emotional burden that just hits hard in every way possible.

The album isn’t all guns blazing, as evident with the more methodical approach to the intro of “Ritual and Fire,”  This song is more a slow dirge that finds the band adding in some melodeath to their downtrodden style.  Guitar melodies weave in and out of the rhythm guitar like snakes coiling through the grass, leaving openings here and there that the bass and vocals are more than happy to fill.  The song gets more intense towards the end, in no small part to the drums and higher pitched death screams..

Streets of Transience,”  is laden with hooks from the riffs that just pull you in and refuse to let go.  At almost eight minutes in length, this song has near infinite depth.  You know those songs that you just push repeat over and over for?  Yeah, this is one of those—which is amazing for this style and length.  The riff at the 3:01 mark is just slick as hell and cuts deep into the heart of the song and the band goes balls out with riffage, drums, screams, bass…the whole song is one giant barn burner of a track.  Despite that, there are still little touches of melodies that fill all the nooks and crannies of the song, in DECEMBRE NOIR style.

The beginning pounding of explosive drums of “Wings of Eschaton,” might just cave in your head but what a way to go out.  The song’s slower parts bring out the guitar melodies and also the brutality of the vocals, making the song work within both a melodic and heavy range. The lead guitar builds up the tension of the song’s middle portion and lets the melodic death passage that follows grow into the song naturally and give way to chunky metal riffs even more so.

Behind The Scenes,” is the album’s final track and is a very strong closer. Guitars begin the song cleanly for well over a minute as the distortion slowly kicks in.  The build up is steady and purposeful for over two and a half minutes before the death growls come raging thru.  The rhythm of the lyrics come growling out of his mouth surprisingly catchy, the various melodies in the background contribute a lot to this sound as well.  The song ends in reverse from the beginning—the distortion fades away to cleans. DECEMBRE NOIR have crafted something special with “The Renaissance of Hope,” an album that is emotionally heavy as the music from which it comes.  Much like RISE TO THE SKY’s “Death Will Not Keep Us Apart” (which I also reviewed), this album will stay with you long after the music as stopped.  I can’t think of any reason why any fan of melodic death/doom wouldn’t need this in their life.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. A Swan Lake Full of Tears
2. Hope/Renaissance
3. Ritual and Failure
4. Streets of Transience
5. Wings of Eschaton
6. Behind The Scenes
Kevin Kleinschmidt – Drums
Stephan Hunniger – Bass
Martin Ortlepp – Guitar
Sebastian Gorlach – Guitar
Lars Dotzauer - Vocals
Record Label: Lifeforce Records


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